Weekend Update/Results from McDowell Ride

No riding for me this weekend as I have my family members slowly making their way out to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I can’t relax and go ride knowing I have family members who could be waiting on me.

Last weekend was the Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way ride at McDowell Regional park where I did the 30 mile LD. This ride was monumental because it was the first ride I did that got me interested in Endurance. About a year ago, I did the 12 mile fun ride and met my good friend Katherine. We did this ride together once again, but in the LD.

When I did Las Cienegas last month, Annabel did not pulse down in time and we did not get a completion. I was more then prepared this time on how to handle her with the heat and I’ve also been working on keeping a pace between 5-6.5 miles per hour.

The preparation and the pacing had paid off and we were able to complete the ride without too much trouble. The vet check was a bit heart-breaking for me though. The vet noticed she had some swelling in her rear right hock. I asked what the possible cause was, and he considered her many years as a show jumper, along with her age that she was just getting older and that I may need to look for a new horse soon. I even tried to convince myself to start looking for a young Arabian (but I’m not really an Arabian person). This wasn’t just one vet’s opinion that broke my heart, it was the result of the last three rides the control vets have noticed soreness on every different leg. For now, I plan on competing her at least one more year and I am putting her on a new supplement that the vet recommended.

Early on in the ride at about mile 8, Annabel had gotten so frustrated with allowing horses to pass us that she turned into a hot mess. I checked my Endomondo and noticed our average page was about 6.9mph, so I decided to stop and let her walk the next 1.5 miles. This helped both Annabel, and Katherine’s hot mare out. It gave them the opportunity to chill out. It’s no fun riding a hot horse with so many miles to go; it really just wears yourself and your horse out. I had been sponging Annabel’s neck at every opportunity to keep her cool. As I came into the vet hold, she pulsed down fairly quickly in about 2-3 minutes as I drenched her with cool water. I was worried though because she wasn’t drinking. I eventually convinced her to drink some sweet water after she had eaten some hay and gave her electrolytes. On the second loop she was drinking more which brought me some relief.

During the second loop, I started talking to this older woman on a pretty little black and white pinto mare with two blue eyes who was gaited. I asked her what kind of mare it was and she said a Spotted Saddle Horse. I mentioned how I had been looking for a Tennessee Walking Horse. Later in the ride she informed me that her mare was for sale. I started to strongly get interested and told her I would come ride the mare as soon as I had a weekend to do so. I still have my heart set on a Rocky Mountain or TWH though because of their specific gait and don’t know how Spotted Saddle Horses do in endurance. This mare didn’t seem to have a problem but I like different gaits of the TWHs.

We made such great time on the second loop we took a lot more walk breaks as the temperature started to increase. I was super pleased that I had FINALLY completed a ride (this was LD #7) without being uncomfortable or in pain. I honestly probably could have done a 50 based on how I was feeling, but I wouldn’t put Annabel through that yet. It only took me 7 rides to finally figure out how to stay comfortable and the secret was… walk breaks. After about 10 miles and once the pack had spread out, I started taking quick 30 second walk breaks to kick my feet out of my stirrups, roll my ankles, sip some water, and check our average pace.

Annabel had no problems completing and got all A’s and B’s on her vet card. All I wanted was a completion and I got it! Katherine also got a completion on her mare as well and I was happy for her.

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Annabel gets her 6th completion at the final ride of the season.

I’m trying to plan a camping and trail riding trip around New Year’s out in the mountains near Tucson. As of right now, that is my next ride away from the usual local outings.

On another completely random note; I am going to start selling Pampered Chef products. What does this have to do with riding? Well, everyone who knows me knows I love cooking and someday would like to come out with a camping cookbook for stove tops, grills, and campfires. Equestrians typically don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen because they’d rather be out riding. I will be selling products that promote my healthy eating habits, save time, and save money. I can’t wait to get started on that!

 

Weekend Update + Las Cinenagas

I first want to start out this weekend update by informing you how Las Cienegas went. I was really excited that this was a convenient ride for us to attend to. It took place in Sonoita, AZ (the same organizer who puts on the Old Pueblo Pioneer in March) and was a quick three hour drive.

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I was planning on riding with my friend Andrea and her friend-who is now my friend, Britteny. The ride started off great as we rode through cattle country but about 8 miles into the ride we were trotting along a dirt path when both Annabel and I observed at the same time that there was a cattle guard. We both slammed on the brakes to avoid it causing Andrea to run into us and Britteny to run into Andrea in which her gelding ended up crushing Andrea’s ankle. She ended up with a fracture. The cattle guard came out of nowhere and none of us saw it. There were a couple of reasons why it caught us off guard. One being that the ribbons were hanging on a tree to the left of the cattle guard which is what caught our eye. For the previous miles of the ride if there was a cattle guard the ribbons would have been tied to the gate we needed to go through. There was also a large tree branch of the cattle guard, and it was hidden in some really tall grass much like the photo I posted above. I have the whole thing on video and will eventually post it. We stayed together and walked as much as Andrea needed to. She occasionally attempted to trot without stirrups but it still put Britteny and I behind at the control check. I had to lead Britteny for the rest of the ride without Andrea who remained at the control check. The afternoon was surprisingly hot for an October day and even though I started walking and hopped off as I approached the final vet check Annabel was really hot. I have no crew and they did not have any kind of water bucket/sponge combination back at camp. I threw off my saddle to the ground as soon as I got back and started sponging her off back at my trailer. The vets were concerned about Annabel not cooling down as well. After about twenty minutes of attempting to get her pulse down one of the veterinarians finally lead me to a hose that was supposed to be used for horse drinking water and started aggressively hosing off Annabel. I was grateful that someone was finally able to help me. Annabel and I ended up getting over-time and did not complete. This was the first time we did not complete a ride. I was not the only one though. There were 25 starters in the LD only 18 completed; the rest of the horses struggled to cool down as well. I wouldn’t have changed the way I rode though. I knew we were pushing our luck with the time after walking a lot in the first half but it was either do a quick trot the last five miles and risk her not pulsing down or going slower and still not completing. The veterinarians were also noting that she seemed a bit off in her left front and left hind along with some muscle soreness in her left hindquarter. I asked what it could be from and they said anything from a calcium deficiency, to overexerting uphill.

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I am putting Annabel on Total Blood Fluids Muscle which is designed for replenishing the nutrients lost in extreme exercise. We are also working on maintaining a speed of 5.0-6.5 mph. I tend to let her trot at a lot faster of a pace on long, flat roads. Her trot can reach up to 12mph so I want to work on having her not overexert herself. I did a short 5 mile ride today at Estrella and checked my Endomondo every time I hit another mile to see what our pace was (and to drink water). We finished with with a pace of 5.3mph which is suitable considering the amount of walking I actually have to do because of the terrain there. Over the past year, I’m learning to enjoy endurance mile by mile. Next year, I plan on doing all LD’s again, but want to mentally start preparing myself for 50’s. I don’t know if Annabel can be successful in 50’s because she is a bigger girl (16hh), but it is a goal of mine to eventually do.

The ride at Sonoita was still a great way to hit the trails and I always love camping with Annabel. It was a ride that had it’s teachable moments.

On Monday, I was heart broken though to find out a friend of mine, an older lady I have ridden with a couple of times lost her beloved mare. I don’t think I’ve ever met ANYONE who loves their horse as much as this woman did. Her mare developed some type of toxin in her intestine months ago that had been eating away at her. She had no idea and her mare never showed any kinds of signs. She attempted the 100 on Saturday but pulled as she finally started showing signs of what she came down with. I did not expect the mare to not pull through. I thought she would have gotten better with treatment but was shocked to go on Facebook and find out she had passed away. My heart broke for Carol. I remember what that heartbreak feels like when I lost my gelding to colon cancer. Take time to give your horse an extra hug or kiss today, you just never know.